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Facebook makes it easier to update status in multiple languages

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Facebook today launched a brand new feature with the intent of making status updates, easier. The feature will make the task of posting stuff in multiple languages, significantly more convenient and effortless.

Facebook as we know and love it, is a global platform with denizens from across the world. Although English can arguably be said to be the primary language, many of Facebook pages have following from amongst various countries, which also include people who speak a wide variety of languages ranging from English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi and so on. And that is not it, people — normal people like you and me — may have friends who speak different languages.

So what happens when someone wants to post an status update that should be visible and understandable to everyone. Until now, they had no other option but to either post a long update that included all of the translations of the text or post multiple updates in different languages. Not a very pleasant task either way, not to mention that it also clutters up the news feed. This is the issue that Facebook has sought to rectify with its latest update.

How to use the new feature on Facebook:

Okay, so here is how you can start using the new feature. Post whatever you want in your preferred language — English, Hindi, Tamil, anything. Now, you must look for the “Write post in another language” option, which can be found in the composer itself. Next up, add one or two or as many languages you want your post to show up in and hallelujah. Your post will now show up in different languages, depending upon the preferred vernacular of the reader actually viewing it. Awesome isn’t it?

The main trick here is deciding which language to show to which user, i mean how does the system decide if a reader wants to view something in a particular language. Well, Facebook takes three major factors into account to hit the hammer on the head. First, what are the language preferences of that particular user. Two, what is the geographic area or the locality for that particular account and three, what is the language the users post in most commonly.

The feature hasn’t been made compulsorily available, yet. You need to manually activate it on your page to start posting in multiple languages. Here is how:

  • Click Settings at the top of your Page.
  • From General, click Post in Multiple Languages.
  • Click to check the box next to Allow people who manage this Page to write posts in multiple languages.
  • Click Save Changes.

Bingo, you can now use the feature while posting updates so that people viewing your posts will see it in the language that’s most relevant to them. Meanwhile, people whose primary language isn’t included as an additional language in your post will see your post in the default language.

For example, if the default language for your post is English and you also wrote your post in Spanish and French, people whose primary language is German will see your post in English.

Facebook is  deploying a naive Bayes classifier to determine the language of display. In case you are unaware of it — as you are quite likely to be, unless you are seriously into maths or machine learning  — they are a family of simple probabilistic classifiers which are obtained by applying Bayes’ theorem with independence assumptions between the features. The basics of the system were developed in the 18th century, however it has since then emerged as one of the most popul;ar methods of text categorization.

Meanwhile, the company is also planning to use the multiple translations to improve its machine translation system as well. While i am not sure exactly how that will happen, i am guessing that the data generated by its latest update may have a role to play in upgrading Facebooks machine learning systems.

To know more about the topic, you can visit Facebook’s official post on the topic right here.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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